07, Nov 2023 | CJP Team
The News Broadcasting & Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA) has passed two favourable orders on complaints filed by Citizens for Justice and Peace against two shows that were aired on Aaj Tak, censored anchor Sudhir Chaudhary’s shows and ordered one of them to be pulled down. Orders were passed on November 3.
The complaint had highlighted the communal discourse that were to both shows. Unsurprisingly, both these shows had been hosted by Sudhir Chaudhary. On one of his ‘Black and White’ shows, that aired in October last year, had raised the issue of “Muslim participation in Garba festivals”. The show contained projections of prejudice against Islam, manipulated facts of the matter and was presented by a host with a distinctly communal slur and an anti-Muslim bias.
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In the other show, Sudhir had, as anchor, made unfounded claims about illegal mazaars being found on government land in Uttarakhand, especially on forest land, and had thereby stigmatised the whole Muslim community. Based on the complaints raised, the NBDSA reprimanded the channel for using the term ‘Mazhaar Jihaad’ unnecessarily and loosely and also ordered the channel to remove the video of the show in one case.
First complaint- Muslim youth entering Garba Pandals
The complaint– On October 20, CJP have moved the NBDSA against Aaj Tak’s ‘Black and White Show’ for containing themes of communal divide throughout its narrative. Through the complaint, CJP had objected to the tone, tenor and choice of words spoken as well as displayed on the screen during the show. As per the complaint, certain statements made by Sudhir Chaudhary were so denigrating that it made his communal narrative clearly visible and obvious, threatening to mar, even destroy the secular fabric of the country. It was highlighted that the brazen remarks that have been made by Sudhir Chaudhary directly fell with offensive and communal lines, which goes against the ethics of journalism and principles of self- regulation, including the code laid down by the NBDSA. The complaint also brought forward a gross violation on part of Aaj Tak, wherein attempts hadf been made to pitch the Hindu community against the Muslim community by bringing up issues of conflict during the show. Additionally, the host had also presented unfounded “data” that claimed that the channel’s team went to the pandals and found that Muslim boys are befriending Hindu girls.
The decision: The NBDSA raised strong objections to the generalisation made in the course of the show wherein the intentions of all the Muslims entering Garba pandals were “suspect” and “deemed to be malafide”. The anchor had, through aggressive communal participants, observed that “all (such Muslims) e who tried to participate in the events were anti-nationals and did not believe in the festivals.” The NBDSA observed that such baseless statements were made by the broadcasters without any study or analysis. It was further held that by generalising the incidents, the broadcaster had given a communal tilt which was violative of the guidelines laid down by the Commission. The NBDSA also noted that by airing the impugned broadcast, there was a gross violation of the guidelines that prevented communal colour to be given to news reporting related to crimes, riots, rumours, etc.
For the violations committed, the NBDSA warned the broadcaster to not repeat the same in the future and telecast the programme in more objective manner. NBDSA directed that the broadcaster remove the video of the impugned show from their channel and/or Youtube along with all the hyperlinks, and confirm the same to the NBDSA in writing within seven days of the order.
The complete order can be read here: (Order 168)
Second complaint- Show decrying the bogey of ‘Mazhaar Jihaad’
The Complaint- On April 20, a complaint was filed by CJP with the NBDSA over a show aired on Aaj Tak on April 6 hosted by Sudhir Chaudhary. On his show ‘Black and white’ Chaudhary spoke on the issue of illegal mazaars being found on government land in Uttarakhand, especially forest land for which the producers of the show also carried out a ‘ground report’. Based on the said ‘report’, Sudhir had claimed that when these mazaars were demolished with bulldozers and inspected, it was found that the graves did not have any human remains in them. However, no official source has been cited in the same.
Through its complaint, CJP pointed out that the host and the channel missed the bus on getting their facts right while stigmatizing the Muslim community by labelling them and referring to them in a denigrating manner.it was also highlighted tin the complaint that the claims made by Sudhir have been debunked by an official report by the forest department which stated that there are more illegal temples in forest areas than illegal mazaars which takes away completely the basis on which the show was aired.
The decision: The NBDSA observed that the anchor should have avoided using the term ‘Mazhaar Jihad’ while reporting on the issue of illegal encroachment as it gave a totally different dimension to an otherwise valid issue raised by the broadcaster. In view of this, the NBDSA advised the broadcaster to not use the impugned term and be careful about the same in the future.
In both the cases, CJP was represented by Advocate Aparna Bhatt and Advocate Karishma Maria.
The complete order can be read here: (Order 175)